Women Entrepreneurs Welcome and Thriving in San Jose

According to a study just released by MagnifiyMoney, a financial product comparison website, San Francisco, Austin, and San Jose, Calif. are the top three cities for women business owners.The West Coast seems to foster woman entrepreneurs, with six of the top 10 metro areas in its survey of the top U.S. metropolitan areas.
To come up with its results, MagnifyMoney looked at both mean and median business income for self-employed women in each area. A wide range indicated a larger gap in potential earnings.
The report noted that San Jose is a similarly ideal place for women entrepreneurs. The city has one of the highest average business incomes for women, at $30,344 per year. San Jose also has higher rates of women who are self-employed (41.1%) as well as incorporated businesses owned by women (32.2%).
This comes as no surprise to OED, as we have been working with and highlighting the accomplishments of the women who have founded thriving businesses in San Jose.

We have written about three woman-owned companies here, none in areas usually considered “woman’s work.”

Bobbie Everett, CEO and founder of The Wood Connection, San Jose

Bobbie Everett, CEO and founder of The Wood Connection, San Jose

Two years ago, we featured Bobbie Everett, founder and CEO of The Wood Connection, a busy custom cabinetry business in the Monterey Corridor area south of Downtown.

With a background in technology as a long-time Motorola employee, Bobbie was left jobless when the company moved its operations out of state. With her house in the middle of a remodel, she appointed herself construction manager and started sourcing cabinet makers. The one she found turned into a friend, and soon an employer when she managed to convince him he needed her organizational and marketing help. Soon she launched her own cabinetry business, she expanded, hired more people, moved to a larger location. Throughout she has retained a core group of long-term employees.


Najat Badriyeh stands next to one of the many machines on Naprotek’s manufacturing floor.

Najat Badriyeh stands next to one of the many machines on Naprotek’s manufacturing floor.


In December, 2016, OED’s newsletter ran a profile of Naprotek Inc., a registered woman-owned small business (WOSB) that for more than 20 years has worked with some of the top players in aerospace and medical device technologies. Electronics engineering continues to be dominated by men: the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that fewer than 13% of practicing electrical engineers are women, and very few women have broken into the top levels. This is where Naprotek is a clear exception: five of the seven members of its executive team are women. The company was founded in 1995 by Najat Badriyeh, who immigrated to the US from Lebanon as a child. She launched her career in the burgeoning EMS industry in the early 1980s, joining what she calls the “electronics revolution in Silicon Valley.” During these early boom years, Badriyeh gained invaluable experience working for pioneering startups like Best Labs and Diasonics. Later, she would work for Space Craft Inc. (SCI), widely considered to be the founder of the global electronic manufacturing services (EMS) industry and now part of Sanmina Corporation in North San Jose.

Much like Bobbie Everett, Najat has managed to retain her core employees in an industry where experienced personnel are in high demand and talent poaching runs rampant: of Naprotek’s 65 employees, 39 of them have been with the company for more than 15 years. “I am close with all of my employees,” proclaims Badriyeh. “Each morning I walk out to the floor and greet them. They know if they have an issue they can come to me and I will support them however I can.”


from left: Dave Edgar, Sam Liccardo, Claudia Folzman, Matt Mahood


Just last month, we posted about the ribbon-cutting at Iron Construction, a company with roots in San Jose celebrated its return to the city and the inauguration of its headquarters in a newly restored building at 1995 The Alameda.

Claudia Folzman is co-founder and COO of the company that specializes in commercial interiors for life science and manufacturing customers. The company started like so many Silicon Valley startups, in a home garage, with just a handful of people. As the company grew, first in San Jose, then in Sunnyvale and now back in San Jose, the guiding principle was to make great interiors for customers, but also foster a great environment for Iron Construction’s own employees. Numbering more than 50, the Iron workers can enjoy perks at the new building on the The Alameda that includes a commercial kitchen, a dog park and even a vegetable garden.